Regolith and Landscape Evolution
This theme addresses the nature and evolution of the cover sequences, from weathered bedrock to stream transported sediments to wind-blown sand dunes. Understanding the cover is vital to effectively exploring beneath it (and within it!) - both because the developement of the cover rocks is strongly influenced by the basement and because the processes that formed the cover rocks have a first order control on the distribution of metals in the surficial environment. For example, groundwaters, soils or even plants can carry and concentrate dissolved metal species derived from deeply buried bedrock sources and thus provide a window into the basement geology. In extreme cases, for example in palaeochannel uranium deposits such as at Beverly in eastern SA, these processes can lead to the formation of mineral deposits in their own right.
The strategy is firstly to map the cover rocks in three dimensions and determine their evolution both as a function of tectonics (faulting, uplift, exhumation) and surficial processes (weathering, erosion, sedimentation). This will involve a combination of classical mapping techniques in combination with cutting edge geophysics techniques. Secondly, the behaviour and distribution of metal species within the cover material (including plants) will be determined as a means of detecting buried mineral deposits.
This work will build on research conducted at the University of Adelaide and PIRSA as part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Evolution and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME), which will be concluded in 2008.
Current Research Projects